When and how to report someone missing to the police

You do not have to wait 24 hours to report a person missing.

When to make the report

If you are concerned about a person and need to report them missing you can do this immediately.

You can report a person missing by phoning your local police force or by visiting your local police station. You can report to your own local police station even if the missing person lives in another part of the UK. Details of your local force can be found online using the Police UK website.

You can also report a person missing using the 101 non-emergency number. However, if it is an emergency and you feel that the missing person may be at risk of harm, dial 999.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing you can register to text your police force.

If there is any reason why speaking to the police might be difficult for you, please contact us first for support. Phone our free  Helpline 116 000

Information they will need

When you report a person missing the police will ask certain questions to gather a full picture of the missing person and their last known whereabouts. All the information you provide will help the police to search for the missing person, so it is important to provide detailed information. It can be helpful to write down the details before you call to make sure that you have all of the information in front of you.

The police may ask you the following:

  • Name, age, date of birth and address of the missing person.
  • A physical description, including any tattoos, scars, birthmarks etc and what they were wearing at the time of the disappearance. If you do not know this information, details of items of clothing they frequently wear may be useful in some circumstances.
  • Mobile phone number and service provider (if known)
  • If they have taken their vehicle the police may want to know the vehicle registration (if known)
  • Any relevant medical information, such as medical diagnosis and any medication they may be taking. Also let the officer know if the person has left without their medication, or has not been taking their medication. It would also be useful to share whether they suffer any side-effects without their medication.
  • Any information which may indicate vulnerability.
  • A description of their movements before going missing and the place they were last seen. Any activity that is out of character, for example not completing a task they usually would or not arriving at a place they were expected to be.
  • Any possessions the missing person has taken with them, or left behind. For example, passport, car keys, wallet, medication etc.

Once the police have logged the above information you will be given a reference number. It is important to write this reference number down and keep a copy of it. If there is any information which you forgot to tell the call operator, or if any new information comes to light, you can phone 101 and quote your reference number.

Many missing people return within 48 hours. If the person returns, you will need to update the police via 101, quoting your reference number. The police may still want to see the missing person, to check that they are safe and well.


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